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College Football

Mel Tucker Officially Fired From Michigan State

Head coach Mel Tucker of the Michigan State Spartans reacts during the first half against the Penn State Nittany Lions at Beaver Stadium on November 26, 2022 in State College, Pennsylvania. He's wearing a green jacket and a headset.
Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

Michigan State fired suspended head football coach Mel Tucker on Wednesday, just a little more than a week after it gave him notice that it intended to terminate his contract. The move came a few weeks after news broke that Tucker had been under investigation for months by the university after anti-rape advocate Brenda Tracy reported to Michigan State that Tucker had sexually harassed her, which included him masturbating during a phone call without her consent. The university case will continue, but Tucker no longer will be an employee under contract to Michigan State.

The termination is in full below, but these paragraphs seem to sum up the university's case for firing Tucker, who had one of the most lucrative contracts in college football, with cause. Tucker had previously sent Michigan State a 25-page letter outlining why he believed what he did was not a fireable offense. The university is responding to that letter here:

Simply put, the Response does not provide any information that refutes or undermines the multiple grounds for termination for cause set forth in the Notice. Instead, the 25-page Response, which includes a 12-page letter from your attorney and a 13-page “expert report,” provides a litany of excuses for your inappropriate behavior while expressly admitting to the problematic conduct outlined in the Notice. For example, when speaking to the statements that you made during the investigation that were addressed in the Notice, you maintain that you “told the truth in that investigation without reservation.” (Response at 1.) Later in your Response, you again admit to having multiple discussions with the Vendor on "the possibility of future programming," and to "conversations [you] had with [the Vendor] regarding her appearance, flirtation, and phone sex." (Jd. at 4) It is immaterial if, as you allege, these actions were purportedly consensual and somehow occurred outside of your workplace. As the University previously stated, “[i]t is decidedly unprofessional and unethical to flirt, make sexual comments, and masturbate while on the phone with a University vendor.” (Notice at 2.) Your unconvincing rationalizations and misguided attempts to shift responsibility cannot and do not excuse your own behavior. Had you not engaged in this inappropriate and unprofessional conduct, the University would not be subject to public disrespect and ridicule regarding your actions.

The letter concluded with a not-at-all veiled allusion to Tucker's 25-pager.

The length and detail of your Response demonstrates that you have had sufficient time and ability to consult with your attorney and present your reasoning. Given that your Response did not demonstrate any reason not to terminate based upon the grounds stated in the Notice, the University terminates the Agreement for cause pursuant to the Early Termination Provision effective September 27, 2023.

Along with the letter, Michigan State's press release made clear that the university's investigative process would continue. That started back in December, when Tracy reported what happened to Michigan State. The university hired an outside lawyer to investigate; Tracy and her lawyer cooperated with the probe, USA Today reported, while Tucker and his lawyer did not. The investigating lawyer submitted a 106-page report to the university on July 25, but its existence wouldn't become public knowledge until USA Today and ESPN reported on the Tucker case earlier this month, with USA Today's story going into extensive details about what happened. Shortly after the Tucker case and all its details became public knowledge, Michigan State suspended Tucker without pay.

The letter in full is below.

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